Google promises to be more determined and open in dealing with sexual misconduct. A week after thousands of high-paid engineers and others resigned in protest against the male-dominated culture.
Google bowed down to one of the main demands of the demonstrators by giving up the compulsory arbitration of all cases of sexual misconduct. This is now optional, allowing workers to sue in court and present their case to a jury. It reflects a change made by Ride Hail Service Uber after complaints from its female employees led to an internal investigation. The probe concluded that her rank was poisoned by rampant sexual harassment.
"The executives of Google and I have heard your feedback and have been touched by the stories you shared," said CEO Sundar Pichai in an email to Google employees. "We know that we have not always done everything right in the past, and we are truly sorry for that, it is clear that we need to make some changes." Thursday's email was received by The Associated Press.
Last week, the technology giant's workers left their cabins in dozens of offices around the world to protest what they call lax treatment of executives and other male employees accused of sexual harassment and other misconduct. The organizers of the protest estimated that about 20,000 workers participated.
The reforms are the latest result of a broader social setback against the exploitation of women by women in business, entertainment and politics – a movement that has spawned the hashtag "MeToo" as a sign of unity and a call to change.
Google provides more information on cases of sexual misconduct in internal reports available to all employees. The breakdown includes the number of cases established in different business departments and lists the types of punishment imposed, including redundancies, pay cuts and mandate advice.
The company is also stepping up its training to prevent misconduct. It is required that all employees go through the process every year, not every other year. Those who fall behind in their education, including high-level executives, are involved in annual performance reviews. This leaves a blemish that could lower their wages and make transportation difficult.
However, Google did not respond to demands by protesters to commit to paying women as much as men doing similar jobs. If Google has previously been accused of ostracizing women – the US Department of Labor and charges filed by female employees – Google has claimed that its compensation system does not distinguish between men and women.
The changes did not go far enough to please Vicki Tardif Holland, a Google employee who helped with protests near the Cambridge, Mass., Facility last week.
"While Sundar's message was encouraging, key points on discrimination, injustice and representation were not addressed," Holland wrote in an e-mail replying to a request from AP.
However, employment experts forecast that the generally positive outcome of Google's mass uprising will impact Silicon Valley and possibly other US companies as well.
"These things can be contagious," said Thomas Kochan, a professor of management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who specializes in employment issues. "I would expect other professionals to get involved if they see something wrong."
Some employers may even be able to incorporate some of Google's new policies given their reputation, said Stephanie Creary, who specializes in work-related issues and diversity at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School. "When Google does something, other employers tend to copy it," she said.
Google got caught in the crosshairs two weeks ago after the New York Times caught up with allegations of sexual misconduct against developer of Google's Android software Andy Rubin. The newspaper said Rubin received a $ 90 million severance package in 2014 after Google declared the allegations credible. Rubin has denied the allegations.
Like its colleagues in Silicon Valley, Google has already acknowledged that its workforce is too focused on white and Asian men, especially in the highest-paid executives and computer programmers. Women account for 31 percent of Google employees worldwide, and leadership positions are lower.
Critics believe that the gender imbalance has created a "Brogammer" culture similar to a college fraternity treating women as sex objects. As part of its ongoing efforts, Google must now include at least one woman or non-Asian ethnic minority in the list of leadership candidates.
Google is reforming the rules for sexual misconduct